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Bakhchisaray

The former capital of the Crimean khanate under the dynasty of Ghirey –Bakhchisaray- has been in existence for more than 5 centuries. As far back as 1478 the founder of the dynasty Hadzhi-Ghirey I transferred his headquarters from Solkhat to the fortress Kirk-Or (later name of Chufut-Kale), however, the small fortress was not enough for the new ruler, so the residence was first built in Ashlama-Dere valley, and in the early 16 th century there was founded Bakhchisaray (“palace in the garden”). Today the khan palace does not have its former splendor and luster, though in part an aura of the Middle Ages still can be felt. The fact that modern civilization has left a hardly noticeable mark on the outward ap­pearance of the city played a positive role after all. A stroll around Starosillia (former Salachik) will help you plunge into the atmos­phere of a medieval Tatar township: clay dwellings with high walls, narrow curved streets, fountains. Several mausoleums are considered the oldest his­torical relics of the city, namely Bey-Yude-Sultan, the diurbe of Akhmed-bey (16 th cent), Mohammed-bey (16 th cent), and Mohammed-Ghirey II (late 16 th-early 17 cent). In Salachik noteworthy are several structures such as the mausoleum of Hadzhi-Ghirey 1(1501) built by his son Mengli-Ghirey I who later was buried beside his father, the building of Zindzhirli-medrese, Moslem theological school. Before its entrance hangs a chain, which gave the name to the establishment (“zindzhir”- chain); everyone entering there had to bend his head before the wisdom of Allah. In the yard there is the grave of Ismail Gasprinsky – writer, scientist, and enlightener. At I.Gasprinsky memorial house you will be told about his life and activity.

A number of structures have been pre­served in the territory of the palace com­plex; a mong them there are the Great khan mosque Khan-Dzhami (17 th- 18 th cent), the Main building, the bath Sari-Guzel, Falcon tower, and harem building. The old­est object of the museum is the portal Aleviza delivered from the palace Ashlam-Saray. This wonderful gate was created by the Italian architect Aleviz Novyi who was invited, together with other masters, by the Russian Prince Ivan III to adorn the Kremlin. On the way the group was detained by the Crimean khan Mengli-Ghirey I.The archi­tect decorated khan’s palace for more than a year; only on complet­ing the work he was allowed to continue his trip. The main building consists of the Golden study, Divan, Little mosque, and a summer pergola. There are several fountains in the yard among which the famous Tear Fountain was glorified by Aleksandr Pushkin in his poem The Fountain of Bakhchisaray. It was built by the Iranian master Omer on demand of khan Krim-Ghirey who lost his beloved wife. The Diliara-Bikech Mausoleum is situated beyond the common grave of the Soviet soldiers who died while liberating Bakhchisaray during the Second World War.

Beyond the eastern outskirts of the city there is the ancient Assumption Monastery of the caves, which ap­peared in the 8 th century during the migration of Christians the iconolaters to the Crimea. At times when Islam spread widely in Crimea the Assumption Monas­tery became the stronghold of Christianity on the peninsula. Now the monastery is functioning, so take care of your appear­ance. Further the road turns into a forest path leading to the cave-city of Chufut-Kale. The total area of the site makes up 46 hectares of which 10 hectares are under town buildings.

Only caves and several stone structures have survived to our time; among them Karaite prayer houses, A.Firkovich’s house (Karaite researcher), the mausoleum of Dzhanikehanim, the daughter of khan Tokhtamish. This presently dead stone town was abandoned by the last inhabitants a little more than 100 years ago. Out of the 16 cave-settlements of the Crimea Chufut-Kale remained inhabited longer than others. From the Eastern gate the path leads to the Karaite cemetery in the Josophat valley, where a number of ancient marble tomb stones have been preserved.

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